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Tankhunter - Henschel Hs 129 B-3

Diorama (1:48) built by Christian Jakl

Tankhunter - Henschel Hs 129 B-3
For most people the Hs 129 is and was the ugliest aircraft ever built. I don’t agree with that. On the contrary upon closer examination it is one of the most interesting designs ever developed. The first design appeared during 1937. The novelty was that it was specifically designed as an anti-tank and ground support aircraft.

Comparable to today’s A-10, the Hs 129 was the first pure ground attack aircraft. It had no similar Allied counterpart. Unusual was the thin fuselage with the triangular cross-section and the very tight cockpit. Because of the lack of space some of the control levers had to be installed on the inside of the engine bay and the gun sights were installed in front of the cockpit and slightly to the right. Despite this, the area the pilot had to operate in was extremely tight especially for a large man. The biggest problem with the whole Hs 129 series was that it was chronically underpowered.

While the A series was equipped with two Argus As 410 A-1 engines, the B series was thanks to the fall of France equipped with the radial Gnome-Rhone 14M rotary engines. These engines were available in larger numbers. The tiny Henschel came unto its own during the invasion of the Soviet Union. The RLM soon understood the potential of a good ground support aircraft that was able to support advancing ground troops. With the addition of various "Rüstsätze" (weapons packages), the additional weight had a negative impact on flying characteristics. There was no rear defense so additional armor plate was added which reduced speed considerably. In order to deal with the numerical superiority of Soviet tanks more and more powerful weapons were adapted to be used in the Hs 129. The Hs 129 B-2/Wa (weapon carrier) was developed.

The first aircraft received the MK 103 cannon, later models received the BK 3,7 which already had been used successfully in the Ju 87 G2 Stuka. Naturally the much smaller Henschel could carry only one cannon of this caliber. The two MG 17s had to be removed to make room for the ammunition for the BK 3,7. This was not enough for the RLM as they pushed for even bigger caliber weapons. The last variant and actually built for testing was the B-3. With a 75mm anti-tank Pak 40 L and with no increase in power, the aircraft was practically limited in its ability to fly. Speed and maneuverability were seriously hampered. However this weapon was able to destroy any tank at a distance of a 1000meters. The development of the C model with more powerful engines did not go beyond the design stage.
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The model, Henschel Hs 129 B-3

The Hasegawa version of the B-3 is not officially available in Austria. I don’t know the reason for this but many models from Asia never reach the shelves of European hobby shops. The B-3 is barely distinguishable from the B-2 kit. Only a few resin parts were added, the weapons pod, the telescopic sight ZFR 3 B as well as the covers for the MG 17 openings. There is also a white metal, two part Pak 40 L and new decal sheet for the 13. and 14. Staffel of Schlachtgeschwader 9. I replaced the kit cannon with a turned brass replacement from Schatton. The accuracy of the drilled holes by the German manufacturer cannot be surpassed. The canopy and wheel wells are from CMK. Since the Henschel does not get much attention, there is not much literature available.

This is especially true of pictures of the B-3. The only exception is the Luftwaffe Classic book by Martin Pegg. Only twelve B-3s ordered by the RLM and actually built. They were flown and tested and because of the horrible flying characteristics never were used operationally. Yellow three with the Werknummer 162040 of 14(Pz)./SG 9 was lost due to engine failure near Nagygmand, Hungary during early 1945. As usual I stayed away from decals as much as possible and I used the rivet roller tool on the body of the aircraft. Since the Hasegawa kits are of very good quality, assembly posed no problems. It would have been interesting to open up the weapons carrier so as to be able to recreate the working mechanism of the weapons. I’ll save that for the 1/32 version.
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Tankhunter - Henschel Hs 129 B-3 (1:48)

  Model built by Christian Jakl, photos taken by Wolfram Bradac  
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The diorama - under construction...

  photos taken by Christian Jakl  
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(click the images to enlarge)
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The diorama

My original idea was different. The scenario was to have been a winter scene with the ground crews applying a winter scheme. Because of many delays in the procurement of various accessories and materials I had to change my plan. As soon as the temporary hangar was completed, the base had to be extended; otherwise the Henschel would have ended up in the hangar. The length and width of the diorama was extended by 10 centimeters. Now it was possible to represent the aircraft being pulled out by a Kettenkraftrad. The downside- the large empty spaces had to be filled. With new ideas came new problems. In order to make these ideas come true, one needs the necessary materials ,which is difficult in Austria. Waiting becomes a necessary evil.

I admit that I am not a friend of Internet shopping. As a result the construction of the diorama dragged out over one half year. This is time wasted because one cannot really begin something else because the materials waiting to be used have to lie around to wait for the missing accessories. There just was not enough space to put them away. In the end the larger size of the base was a plus. More empty space made the whole diorama seem less overloaded. Details could be hidden and minor things did not appear as obtrusive. The focal point was to be the hangar and the onlooker’s curiosity was to be drawn to the back of the hangar in order to observe the goings on behind the scenes of the aircraft’s shelter.

The makeshift hangar

The materials used in the construction of the hangar were relatively inexpensive in comparison to the rest of the accessories. Balsawood, walnut molds, white glue, corrugated aluminum (from an architectural supply store, 1:50) a little paint and pastels was all that was needed. Total price about 30 Euros. With home drawn plans that were in scale to the Henschel Hs 129 and the proportion of the base there were no construction problems. I started with the framework, followed by the various panels of the walls. The weathering of the wood was accomplished with rough sandpaper and light gray pastels. A pleasant aspect of working with these materials is the light weight. Finally the hangar loft was enhanced with a little straw and other decorative items. The corrugated roof is made of aluminum and is easy to work with and bendable.
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The vehicles

I will not discuss the vehicles by Tamiya since they are of superior quality and are practically faultless. Not so with the Opel Blitz by FM-Detail. I corrected and rebuilt about 60% of the vehicle. This is shocking when one considers the price of almost 40 Euros. Warped parts, missing detail and two left rear mudguards does not make one happy. At least I can be proud that the sides of the truck bed are made of real wood. The tarp is made from an old handkerchief drenched in wallpaper glue. The new details are made of Evergreen plastic rod. I do not give up hope that the industry will surprise me in the future with an injection molded soft skin vehicle that I need. At the moment all we see are tracked, armored vehicles...


To get right to the point- too big and much too expensive! With over 400 Euros just in model related costs without the cost of the diorama materials calculated in, it busted my budget. This raises the question whether it was worth it when one considers that for the same cost and time one could have built many more other models? We all have a little tick to overdo it. It is exactly that which makes modeling so much fun. Building dioramas is a challenge. Personally I enjoy working with all kinds of materials not just plastic and resin. I suggest try it sometime.
  meet the modeler      

Christian Jakl

  I was born in Vienna in 1971 and now I live in the middle of the mountains in the Tyrol district. I am in marketing and my specialty is graphic design and layout. Ships, planes and automobiles is how it started and now I have taken up aircraft models only. I concentrate on the German and Soviet air force. My favorite mode of display are dioramas in 1/48 scale. Here I can let my imagination run wild and can produce many of parts. Experimentation and the use of new techniques are foremost on my mind. I also combine stock kits with other add onís and try out new tools. There is always a lot to learn.

It is not all that important to me if a detail is no exactly in the right spot; the final product has to look right. If somebody stands in front of my model and is enthused then I did my job right. The only problem I have is the time factor and in this I probably not alone. I wish everybody a lot of fun with this page and hope that critiques and comments are forthcoming.
  Christian Jakl  
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This page:  GALLERY: Tankhunter - Henschel Hs 129 B-3 (1:48) - built by Christian Jakl
was last modified on: Nov 20, 2006
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Translation into English by Werner Stocker (Ft. Myers, FL USA).

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